PARIS (Reuters) - French President Jacques Chirac took a call from Canada’s newly elected leader only to find he had been fooled by a pair of radio pranksters known as the “Masked Avengers” in Canada’s French-speaking city of Montreal.
Chirac’s office confirmed that the French leader had taken a courtesy call Thursday purportedly from Canada’s new conservative Prime Minister-elect Stephen Harper.
But after swapping diplomatic niceties during a lengthy chat, Marc-Antoine Audette of CKOI radio—Canada’s most popular station with over a million listeners—let the 73-year-old Chirac in on the joke.
“We chose Mr Chirac because he is pretty famous, he is the president of France, and for us it was the chance to talk to a head of state,” Audette, 25, said by telephone from Montreal.
“It was the first time my partner Sebastien Trudel and me had spoken to a head of state.” Since the real Harper had not yet spoken to Chirac, “we said, why not, we’ll give it a go and we’re delighted that it worked.”
Chirac did not react once to Audette’s outrageously thick French-Canadian accent as the two men discussed relations, including the name of Canada’s new ambassador to France—Richard Z. Sirois—who unbeknownst to Chirac is a well-known French Canadian humorist.
When Audette complained of the poor press coverage Harper has had in France, Chirac said: “You cannot stop the newspapers from saying any old rubbish, it’s true in France and it’s true in Canada, so don’t let yourself be impressed by that.”
“Exactly Mr President, liberty, equality and fraternity. Amen,” said Audette in his the over-the-top accent, a response that earned the fake prime minister an invitation to make an official visit to France.
When Audette finally revealed himself as a bogus prime minister, Chirac burst out laughing.
“In any case, know that my friendship for Canada and the new conservative government is a real friendship and without reserve,” he said.
The radio station, which has previously hoaxed Tiger Woods, Paul McCartney and Janet Jackson, plans to broadcast the discussion at 1630 Eastern Standard Time Friday.